The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Diaz explains Prop 19 editorial decision

Jonathan Baer, Staff Writer

The Legend’s cub reporters conducted a phone interview with San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Writer John Diaz on Oct. 13 to ask how he went about taking a stand on Prop 19. Below are some of our questions and his answers.

Q: How did the Chronicle go about taking a stand on Proposition 19?

A: We’ll do our homework, first of all, just like being in school. We will have the two sides (weigh) in. And in the case of Proposition 19, we had a one-hour meeting with the proponents of Proposition 19 and a one-hour meeting with the opponents. And we were able to really drill down (to) what some of the particular issues were.

Q: How did the meetings help you decide?

A: I thought that the two meetings were very critical, not only in forming my judgment, but those of my colleagues, because we were able to talk about specific things in the measure, and it wasn’t just the type of conversation you would have over the kitchen table, like, “Gee, should we legalize marijuana?”

Here, we were able to get the experts in and talking about the content, and really drill down and ask, “What is the specific language in this bill and what would it do?”

And in many cases there were some differences; two sides were looking at the same language with different interpretations.

Q: Did you already have an opinion going into this process or did you have an open mind?

A: I would say, going into it, to be honest with you, I was probably skeptical of Proposition 19, but at the same time still open-minded to be convinced that this was the way to go.

(M)y thinking was: does this have the kind of structure, the kind of checkpoints about different concerns that are really going to make it worth it and make sense?

Q: So after all your research and writing, what’s your final opinion?

A: There were a number of things that were of concern. (T)he most disturbing of all is there is a clause in (the proposed law) which basically makes it illegal for anyone to discriminate against somebody on the basis that they smoke marijuana (unlike other drugs).

I think it is important for people to know (that) it’s not going to do anything for the state budget … it’s not going to do anything to help the schools, to help us build roads. Whatever revenue it generates will be generated at a local level, and there would be some jurisdiction that would want to do it, and others that would not get any revenue at all from it.

It is really not going to help this big state budget deficit that we have right now.